September 2017 Temkin/Harris Poll
One of the fun things about working on political campaigns is that you get to see internal polling about how your local electorate is feeling. These polls ask important questions like, "is our city on the right track?" and if not, "who is most to blame?" But campaigns rarely share these polls with the outside world, so great cities like Chicago don't have access to that kind of information.
Today I'm releasing the first Temkin/Harris poll, a new public opinion survey of registered voters in Chicago. My partner in this project is Melissa Harris, the founder of M. Harris LLC (one of the best marketing and communications agencies in Chicago), and a former Chicago Tribune business columnist. Melissa and I became interested in doing this poll together as a special service to our clients, but we are also excited to take this extra step and release the findings publicly.
Here are some of the interesting findings:
- We polled 500 registered voters (not likely voters) in the city of Chicago, the poll was conducted by Normington Petts (Tammy Duckworth's pollster). It's important to note that this poll is not a representative sample of likely voters (for example, we oversampled young and hispanic people) and without correcting for that, it's not really useful for prognosticating about elections.
- The electorate is unusually engaged in politics. 75% of registered voters say they will "definitely vote" in the midterms (in the 2014 midterms only 36% of registered voters showed up). Name recognition of primary candidates like J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy is over 50%.
- People are angry. 66% of people feel the city is on the wrong track. No elected officials or city institutions have a positive approval rating. 57% of voters would vote to replace the mayor if the election was held today.
- People don't know who to blame. When we ask voters who is to blame for the city's problems, all of the responses (Rauner, Daley, Rahm, the state legislature, city council) are within the margin of error at about 16%. Notably, very few people blame unions representing employees for our problems (4%).
- Chicagoans don't like Trump or Rauner (75% and 59% unfavorable respectively). People feel strongly about their dislike (65/10% very/somewhat unfavorable for Trump; 38/22% very/somewhat unfavorable for Rauner). But among voters who like Trump and Rauner, their support is weakly held (8/8% very/somewhat favorable for Trump; 5/14% very/somewhat favorable for Rauner).
- Things look better for the mayor, but not much. Rahm holds a 33% approval rating, but enthusiasm is low (6/27% very/somewhat favorable). Among likely voters, his numbers look better.
- Adjusting for lower name ID, gubenetorial candidates Pritzker and Kennedy have relatively high unfavorables at +8 and +1. I interpret this as another general sign of dissatisfaction with establishment figures.
- Despite recent scandals, the Chicago Police Department holds a +20 fav/unfav rating. This is one of the most surprising results of the poll and the positive sentiment in the face of scandal cuts across demographic lines. CPD only dips below 50% approval with people under 44 or among people who get most of their news from social media (also the groups in those demos least likely to vote).
Based on these results, I would anticipate a high-turnout change election in Chicago. I wouldn't want to be an incumbent running for any office in the city right now - voters are dissatisfied and they have no idea who or what to blame. Perhaps the opportunity for our political leaders is to address some of the boring, unsexy, systemic issues that gum up the works in Chicago politics. A great example of such an issue would be publicly-financed campaigns like New York has successfully implemented. Chicagoans voted overwhelmingly in support of such a system in 2015 - 79% of voters said they wanted to use public funds to reduce the influence of money in politics. But no policy change has occurred as a result.
You can find more analysis on Melissa's site, or download the top-level results [PDF]. The poll results are released under a Creative Commons SA-BY-NC license. That means you can use the content how you want, but you have to give us credit, distribute it under the same license, and you can't sell it.